Christian Blogging is not only popular but it is also a profession. Blogs as a medium are a valuable resource to receive spiritual edification, news, popular commentary on current events through a Christian lens, and insight to finding valuable resources (books, music, et al.) at discounted prices. Blogs essentially are a wonderful learning environment accessed at a reader’s leisure.
Yet, many Christians are not aware of this valuable resource. Not only this but they are not familiar with who to follow on platforms such as Twitter or to subscribe to via e-mail or their RSS Reader like Feedly.The purpose of this series is to identify and interview exceptional Christian Bloggers in order to introduce people to their blogging ministry. I hope you enjoy this series. We will continue it throughout the summer, so please stay tuned. You’re going to meet some markedly gifted people who have a passion to share God’s truth and God’s gospel through this unique digital platform.
Obviously, for this series to be successful I need your help. Please share with others about this series. I’m just preaching to the choir if regular blog readers catch on to this series. Tell your friends about this series by word of mouth. Help them create a twitter account or have a feedly RSS reader account. And yes! Retweet. Like. Subscribe. Share. Help others discover this digital treasure trove of bloggers who serve the Church via this medium.
These interviews will post each Thursday during the coming weeks. We’ve already got an excellent lineup of bloggers who are participating in the series. Below is the past schedule.
Discovering Christian Bloggers Interview Schedule:
May 9 – Aaron Armstrong
May 16 – Trevin Wax
May 23 – Stephen Altrogge
May 30 – Mike Leake
June 6 – Gloria Furman
Today’s Featured Blogger:
Nathaniel Claiborne blogs at nathanielclaiborne.com. He is married and teaches high school bible classes in central Florida. Follow @nateclaiborne on twitter.
1. What is your website/blog url? What would you describe as being the profile of your blog? What Christian niche do you best serve?
I blog regularly at http://nathanielclaiborne.com. I titled the site Marturo using the Greek word for “I witness.” I haven’t started playing with the possibility of iWitness, but I just might soon. I’ve been blogging in one form or another for about 10 years now, but it wasn’t until shortly before going to seminary that I started blogging about theology. Since then I’ve constantly had difficulty integrating personal blogging (think old school Xanga and MySpace) with more polished thinking, for instance, book reviews. My current way of dealing with it is to offer polished articles on Marturo and pictures, videos (usually funny), quotes, and other miscellanies at http://nateclaiborne.com.
My blog is predominantly book reviews, but historically it has included theological reflections, apologetic forays, and tips and insights for studying the Bible and developing Christian habits. My niche then is Christians who want to take their faith seriously and want to discover new resources to help them grow and develop their mind, as well as ways to think theologically (another old blog title) about current issues.
2. How did your blogging ministry begin?
Like I said, I started blogging the way I currently do when I started seminary. It originally was an outlet for my thinking and so posts from that era (2007-2008) are unfortunately long, convoluted and not very widely read. It was just a bit too niche. Around the time I got engaged and then married, I started taking post length and my audience a bit more seriously. It was also around this time that I learned you can get free books if you review them on your blog. I started with Crossway and then after reviewing some books I hadn’t gotten for free to build a base, began contacting other publishers until I got to where I am now. Once I graduated seminary, I began being more strategic with posts and trying to streamline my blog. Recently, I haven’t had as much time to write, but because I still read, I’ve kept up with my book reviews. I would like to do more, but I think it’s something I do well and something from which people benefit.
3. What is the most meaningful post you have written and why?
Looking back, it was probably the post I wrote the day before I got married. It was part of a series I was doing on idolatry, called “Idolatry: Slowing Going the Way of the Buffalo” (http://nathanielclaiborne.com/idolatry-the-way-of-the-buffalo/) I was grappling both with what Scripture teaches about our relationship with God and my upcoming marriage. I sort of wondered out loud what it would be like if we took our marriages as lightly as we sometimes take our relationship with God. I think it still serves as a good reminder and something I will probably return to write more on in the future.
4. What is the most popular post that you have written? Why do you think it gained such extensive readership?
Believe it or not, book reviews are not generally all that popular. They actually don’t have as long of a shelf life as I would like, and they rarely strike a chord. One post that did, however, was in part of a series I did on worship music. It was provocatively titled, “How To Worship When You Think The Songs Suck.” (http://nathanielclaiborne.com/how-to-worship-when-you-think-the-songs-suck/) It was picked up by Lisa Robinson over at Parchment & Pen and generated some really good discussion. Worship music is something I struggle with regularly, but for perhaps a different reason than most people. I am a musician and I predominantly listen to progressive metal and other types of heavier rock music. For me, even the edgiest worship music is still kind of musically boring and not something I would listen to in my spare time. I judge music based on its interesting artistry and complexity, something worship music generally lacks. Add the fact that there are many well loved worship songs with vapid lyrics, I rarely find a worship song that I like in the same way I like the music I listen to regularly.
This post was my way of processing through that and coming to terms with the fact that what we are doing in church is different than what I am doing when I am listening to music I enjoy. Also, my taste in music is not normative, nor should it be (for different reasons than what you might be thinking!) and I am there not to be entertained but to worship, and I should be able to meaningfully do that even if I personally think “this song kind of sucks.” I should add that I’ve also realized that “suck” is usually used in a subjective sense meaning “I don’t like this” and may not have any sound basis for critique (and usually doesn’t when most people say it). If I use it (and I usually don’t use that word for it), I mean “this song or this worship band lacks artistic integrity.” Even those instances, I should be able to worship and should keep my critiques to myself unless asked or unless I can actually contribute to change.
5. What has been your inspiration to write? Why have you been inspired to write?
I think I’ve been more inspired by sharing content than by any one writer. But when I think about writers whose clarity and creativity make me want to be a better writer, C.S. Lewis and John Piper spring to mind. They were the first and early influences. Additionally, I’ve found John Frame and N.T. Wright to both be inspirational for the way they write about theological and biblical studies. Outside of the Bible Belt, I enjoy and draw from clever observers of culture like Chuck Klosterman and Malcolm Gladwell and the travelogues of Bill Bryson.
In terms of why I want to write, I think it goes back to wanting to communicate effectively in order to facilitate growth. I need to spend more time perfecting the craft, but there just hasn’t been room for that on my plate recently. Hopefully now that its summer I can start writing more again and implementing techniques from books like On Writing Well and Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, both of which are books with principles I’ve carelessly violated all throughout answering these interview questions (like just now for instance). I realize writing gets better by doing, not by reading about how to do it better. And for that reason, I’ll be doing more than just book reviews in the coming months after a brief hiatus.